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Why both sides are so fixated on the non-partisan mayoral race in Texas

What is happening in Taranto County is being closely monitored, both inside and outside the state. After being a Republican stronghold, Tarant has noticed that GO margins have been declining in recent years – President Joe Biden’s close victory there in November marked the first time in more than half a century that a Democratic presidential candidate has run for the county. If the constituency continues to move to the left, it will affect the balance of power throughout the country.

“We’ve never had a race so biased,” said Kenneth Barr, a former mayor of the Fort Worth Democratic Party who ran the city from 1996 to 2003. “Texas is not allowed to hold guerrilla primary elections in city governments.” . And these particular elections have moved as far in the guerrilla direction as all we have had so far. “

Republican Matthew Parker, a former Price chief of staff, and Democrat Deborah Peoples, a retired CEO of AT&T, are running in the runoff, both insisting on running non-partisan campaigns.

To some extent, this is true: Parker refused any approval from the CSO in its joint election campaign, and the Peoples withdrew from joint events with national democratic groups supporting its campaign. At the heart of the competition are questions about how Fort Worth will change as the city continues to grow – it is currently the 12th largest city in the country. Population influx has increased the need for more urban infrastructure and put public safety issues in a sharper focus for voters in light of the rise in violent crime in 2020.

Still, the county Republican continues to call and knock on Parker’s behalf. And Texas Gov. Greg Abbott backed her on Wednesday, stressing her support for law enforcement – and pitting her against the Peoples record.

For his part, Peoples, a former Democratic chairman of Taranto County, was approved by a number of National Democratic groups and prominent U.S. and national Democrats, including former Texas representative Beto O’Rourke, former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and the Democratic National Committee Jaime Harrison.

The collective PAC – which helps select black candidates for the post – has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the race in an attempt to attract black voters to the city in support of the people who would be the city’s first black mayor.

Republicans worry that Fort Worth’s rapid growth is not only changing the city’s traditional character and policies, but moving it in the same direction as the state’s four largest cities – Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin. These cities usually feed democratic candidates in elections across the country.

“There’s a big concern here that if you find yourself with a Democrat mayor, it will change what people know as Fort Worth,” said Rick Barnes, chairman of the Taranto Republican Party.

The ongoing national debate on race and police serves to raise guerrilla stakes. Republicans tried to make the race partly a referendum on democratic leadership in other cities in the country. Amid ongoing talks to fund police in Austin and the rest of the country, the topic has become the biggest talk point in recent days.

With a Democratic mayor, Republicans say, Fort Worth will be more susceptible to the scenes of disorder and violence that took place in some major American cities last summer.

“We see what Democrats have done more for Austin than Dallas, but these two cities [have] Democrat mayors. And then when you add in Houston and San Antonio, the people at Fort Worth just don’t agree to let their city go that way, “Barnes said.

In an interview with Star-Telegram, Abbott described Peoples’ reform-oriented stance on the police as “taking a position to protect the police.” He and other state Republicans have sought to portray her as an opponent of law enforcement.

While the Peoples campaign platform called for a reallocation of law enforcement funds to community policing initiatives, it abandoned the term “disposing of the police.”

But her opposition to the taxpayer-funded police budget referendum in 2020 has given Republican critics some ammunition. As a majority of voters in Fort Worth passed the Crime Control and Prevention County, a half-penny tax that helps pay for police equipment, and the presence of special events and school staff, peoples opposed, saying citizens need to contribute more to the way money is used.

“You can’t deny the fact that she was there trying to overcome the fact that she was on the wrong side of the issue,” said Carrie Moon, a member of Fort Worth City Council. “I think that’s probably the bigger problem that people see – and they don’t want to discourage the police.”

Peoples, who emphasized that racial inclusion was part of her platform, called herself a “progressive producer of change.”

“What [Fort Worth] leadership advocates now does not involve the entire population of the city. We are a city with a majority and a minority, “said the Peoples in an interview. “Our biggest problem is to ensure that all of us in the city take advantage of this explosive growth that we are seeing.”

People criticized Parker for accepting the governor’s approval, citing the governor’s support for a Republican bill passed by the state legislature that would restrict access to the ballot for millions of blacks, Latins and low-income voters.

“This approval clearly shows that Matti Parker will accept the separation of Abbott as mayor,” she wrote on Twitter.

Parker admits that attracting national politics has served to intensify the race.

“Part of what’s happening across the country seems to be translating here, whether there was a problem here or not,” said Parker, who has recommendations from police unions and firefighters in the city. “Because Fort Worth is growing so fast and we’re now the 12th largest city, sometimes we haven’t always talked about the difficult things a growing city has to talk about.”

The form of voting in Fort Worth – elected by both Democrat and Republican mayors in recent decades – makes Saturday’s outcome difficult to predict. Peoples was the best contestant in the May 1 election, but Parker wants to take votes from some of the more conservative candidates who were eliminated.

“Anyone running for mayor who tries to run it on the basis of ‘I’m doing this for Republican or Democratic control’ will lose,” said Brian Mace, a Texas-based media strategist who cut ads for the Parker campaign. “Voters [in Fort Worth] have always had an independent series. “

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